Right then. This post goes down in the chapter of our trip as recounting the WORST ROAD EVER.
While the road from Calvert Crossing to Borroloola was rather bumpy and dusty, and littered with broken down cars it was NOTHING compared to what was coming our way as we head towards Limmin National Park, or rather Lorella Springs.
We filled up on Opal petrol at $2.20 per litre – the aroma is removed from it to combat the petrol sniffing habits so sadly taking lives in some communities. That was a hard thing to explain to the Squids, and some things are best left unshared with their still young minds.
One more icy-pole for the road (their pocket money is spent as fast as it’s handed over now that it’s getting hotter), and a quick lap of the town (something was going on – there were police planes landing – but maybe it was staff changeover day), and we were on the way towards Butterfly Springs in Limmin National Park.
Imagine a National Park with a road through it spanning the distance between Albury to Melbourne … that’s the distance we’re driving to get through this vast expanse known as Limmin National Park.
A million hectares of wilderness, rocky escarpments, scraggy bush, red dust, river crossings, lagoons, waterfalls, pandanus and endless scrub. The national park itself is only a few years old but the land nestled within its title is ancient, weathered, relentless.
The road was long and relentless, as we were hounded by bushfire smoke and tin signs urging us to turn off to “Lorella Springs – we have cold beer”; “Thermal Pools”; “Grassy campsites”; “Showers” and “Bakery”. It wore us down.
We hesitated at the turn off.
Should we? Shouldn’t we? Push on to Butterfly Springs in the Limmin National Park, or turn into the private property of Lorella Springs?
Heck, why not?
“Only 100, 000 bumps to go” declared the next sign.
What it should have declared was “30km of hell driving which will rattle your teeth, mess with your head and shake the shit out of your vehicle, making you want to book the first chopper ride out of here”.
We felt every corrugation, every bulldust hole, every dip the grader failed to see apparently only weeks earlier. There were no more signs. Probably because the previous drivers souvenired them to hurl at the grader driver.
We tried not to grumble, but when we pulled up at the last gate and discovered our shock absorbers dragging on the ground under the trailer, we were hoping for paradise and a bush mechanic in at Lorella Springs.
Unfortunately what we got was a less than moderately priced campsite fee, conveniently NOT signed back at the turn-off (steep at $20 per adult per night, when you compared it with the value for money fee at Adels Grove which also offered decent showers – but it’s too late to turn back now). We were also being given the hard word to spend more this minute we turned off the engine.
“I’ll give you a family rate for a chopper ride over the escarpment” suggested the Chopper pilot Nick, and to stay longer “You really can’t do Lorella Springs property in less than 3 days” he suggested, “Come by the bar and I’ll tell you a little more about it “(hmm, with beer at $9 … and $8 during Happy Hour we’ll pass – shame as the jerry can barstools were really cool!)
We were somewhat shell-shocked by the shockers failing and the Skipper headed under the trailer to remove the last of them.
And there was the smoke. Bushfires were burning for days in the area, on some parts of the road we were driving through thick smoke. In fact the camera lense seized while taking a photo of the burns. There was no way we’d be enjoying a lovely birds-eye view of chasms and escarpments from a chopper, and we certainly weren’t going to spend more money waiting till it cleared.
Regardless of the state of travel weary mind we were in, Lorella Springs itself looked like a lovely place to stay if you had a week, a hardier vehicle than our Landcruiser and a wallet that wasn’t accommodating a 6 month lap of the map.
Lorella Springs Wildreness Park is part of the Lorella Springs Station, a virtually untouched one million acre cattle station 180 km’s west of Borroloola and stretching up towards the remote coastline.
What had immediate appeal for us was the thermal croc-free springs.
They were deliciously divine. Mossy steps down into a clear warm thermal springs, ringed with flowering lillies, and screened by pretty pandanus. The Squids turn into frolicking water nymphs free of the fear of crocs and stagnant water stink.
There were other travellers here for days, bottoms firmly perched on those funky barstools, enjoying the freshly baked bread from Dicks Bakery – a brick fireplace with an old stove door leaning up against it – they were clearly in no hurry to rush to get back out on that. corrugated teeth-chattering strip of road.
In fact we spoke to other mates much later in the trip who went all the way to the Tip of Cape York, they agree, when they later bump into Lorella Springs , this IS the worst road!
Maybe Nick and Dick and whoever else hangs out at Lorella Springs needs to spend less time behind the bar, and more time fixing the road!
And maybe they need to add another sign “Lorella Springs – the road is crap!”
Check back in later, I’m way out yonder and there’s not enough juice to upload photos